Your Learning Journal
The Nature of Leadership
How Nurturing, Caring, and Love Can Transform Your Professional ‘Garden’ of Talented People
By Jocelyn Little
It’s 108° in the shade today. It’s the desert — It’s dry, there’s not a lot of water, and the summer months are unbearably hot!
Yet in my garden within this desert I see a healthy, pink rose. There it is, blooming in all it’s magnificent beauty, sharing its color and fragrance for all to enjoy.
How does this delicate rose manage to bloom in this scorching heat, this challenging environment? Much like leadership, the answer is protecting, nurturing, care and love. I’ve worked hard to provide constant care and love every day, consistently, especially throughout the rigorous months, so that this plant can survive and thrive, regardless of the rigid conditions of its environment. I nurtured it. I fed it water and protected its roots with mulch. I kept its leaves and buds free of damaging pests and bugs. I encouraged its growth. I built up its resilience. And I did this day in and day out because I knew that if I failed to do so, this plant would start to wither and would probably not survive the elements of its surroundings. This beautiful rose is the result of the strength and resilience of the plant that I protected, nurtured, and cared for.
Leadership is much like caring for this plant. Great leaders protect, care, love and nurture those that they lead. They feed the body, heart, mind, and spirit of the people in their charge, building up their resilience and capacity. They understand that in order for their people to thrive, the focus of leadership has to be on the whole person to produce the desired result in peak performance, creativity, engagement and a life well lived. Leaders create environments that encourage growth and allow those they lead to thrive. Day in and day out, consistently, great leaders engage in the hard work to influence and inspire their people to ensure that they emerge out of the depths of their uncontrollable environment to maximize their full potential. Great leaders protect their people from the internal and external forces that could cause them harm. They lay the foundation for success and allow their people to bloom in full, giving the best of their magnificent talents and contributions in making a difference in the world around them.
Failing to nurture, care and love those within our charge contribute to the withering of spirits — and the erosion of commitment, engagement, and productivity, eventually leading to team members who do not “survive” or merely survive rather than thrive. They take their talents and contributions elsewhere, or they remain in their position without motivation or care for their performance.
However, great leaders are acutely conscious of the delicate balance of protecting and nurturing versus overshadowing and over protecting, which stifles growth. While protecting and nurturing for those we lead is important, equally important is allowing the liberty and freedom that creates the room for growth and development.
Michael Nila, founder and managing partner of Blue Courage, years ago planted a line of bushes on the back property line of his house near a strong, sturdy tree. The bushes grew in beautifully and steadily, providing an aesthetically pleasing ambiance and privacy — all the bushes grew tall with the exception of the last bush near the tree.
This one bush was healthy and strong. It was planted at the same time as all the other bushes. There seemed to be no reason for this bush to be stunted in its growth. So Michael asked his landscaper one day if he knew what the cause was for this bush not continuing its growth like the others. The landscaper pointed to the tree near the bush and stated that the bush knows that the tree is present and the bush instinctively would not grow beyond its size. Though the tree branch was at least 18 inches above the bush, it still stunted the growth of the bush.
Great leaders are always present to provide guidance, nurturing, love, and care but also create room for growth. In Daniel Pink’s book “Drive,” he cites the need for autonomy, which is one of the ingredients absolutely essential to maximize employee engagement and continuous growth. Hovering, micromanaging, like over parenting, are the opposite of an autonomous environment. Much like this bush in Michael’s back yard, people react to the environment their leaders create — they will either continuously grow and thrive when given the space to do so, or they will instinctively stop growing and producing their best work if they feel stifled or uncared for.
By influencing, loving, and nurturing those they lead while creating the space for maximum growth, great leaders will create a marvelous and productive environment for which people will thrive and organizations will succeed!
The Reflection Corner
Thought provoking questions to spark conversations!
What are your 5 most cherished possessions?
This is a heart question from our Heart Focused Leadership Class. It is an exploration of one’s heart.
Possessions, for purposes of this reflection, is non-monetary, and people are not possessions. It’s not a question about what is irreplaceable, but a question about what holds a sacred place in your heart.
Example: Our founder’s top 5 cherished possessions:
1) My Police Badge
2) My writings: Letters, Reflections, articles; and those written to me
3) My Books
4) My Music
5) My Home and its contents
Click here to comment and start a respectful discussion!
The Way of Being
While behavior is important, our way of being is what drives who we are and how we react to other people and experiences. As leaders, our way of being can either be resistant or responsive. Watch this video as Blue Courage’s Daniel Schmer explains the way of being.
Feeding the Mind
Lead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century
by Mark Crowley
Our common belief in business is that the heart has no place in workplace management.
In this stunning and groundbreaking work, however, engagement expert, Mark C. Crowley, provides irrefutable proof that we were wrong.
Crowley begins by showing us how traditional leadership practices are failing. Across the globe, employee engagement and job satisfaction scores have fallen to crisis levels. According to astonishing research from Gallup, 70% of the US workforce is now disengaged.
Right before our eyes, human beings have evolved in what they need and want in exchange for work. 21st Century employees are seeking to find purpose, meaning and feelings of significance. What drives their engagement is feeling valued, respected, developed and cared for.
Why you should read this book:
- Traditional ways of managing people do not work anymore. More than half of Americans would admit that they hate going to work every day. How much productivity are you getting out of people who feel that way?
- People need more than money — they need what Crowley calls emotional currency (meeting their emotional needs.)
- Emotional Currency speaks to the heart of people, and the heart is what drives performance.
- As a leader, you can influence someone so profoundly that they want to meet the highest of expectations and deliver extraordinary levels of performance.
- Regardless of current performance, the catalyst to getting to a higher level is to care about people and support them in a way that you know will create an emotional response. This book gives examples of companies who have experienced a huge impact from leading from the heart.
- The most essential management practice is appreciating people. This book discusses the easiest ways for leaders to apply this to their teams.
“Long after you remember the actual work or the targets you met along the way, what’s sustained in your memory is the effect you had on people’s lives.
By this one measure above all others, you’ll know the true impact you had as a leader.”
To purchase this book, click here.
Each month, we will present information and recommendations that could effectively enhance your way of thinking, behaving, and feeling.
In the month of July, America celebrates our Independence!
We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence – even though John Hancock is the only one who signed it on the actual 4th of July. There are some interesting facts you may not know about this National Holiday we celebrate every year.
- History says Congress voted to declare independence for the 13 colonies on July 2, 1776, but the document wasn’t finalized by congress until the Fourth of July. The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This is the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public. It is interesting that we don’t celebrate on July 8th – the earlier the better!
- Barbecue is also big on Independence Day. Approximately 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken are consumed on this day.
- Three presidents have died on the Fourth of July.
- Benjamin Franklin wanted a turkey – not a bald eagle – to represent our nation.
- The national anthem is allegedly from the tune of an old drinking song.
- A number of other countries host Fourth of July celebrations to attract American tourists; Norway, Denmark, China, Ireland, France, & Australia to name a few.
- China is the largest exporter of American flags, which largely contributed to the passing of legislation making it illegal for the Military to fly “Foreign – Made Flags.”
- Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870. In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
Though we enjoy celebrating our Independence this month, some of these interesting facts also shows how inter-connected our world is. It also shows how far we have come as a nation, though the journey of growth and change continues. Happy Independence Day — or perhaps we are also striving for our Interdependence Day; for as Dr. Stephen R. Covey taught us: independence must precede interdependence. The path from independence to interdependence is the path of wisdom, maturity, and interconnectedness — and the understanding that we are better together than we are alone.
A Follow Up to the June Issue of Illuminate
Sent by Joseph Fox, Chief of Transit for NYPD (Ret.)
It was so nice seeing Craig Hande and Matthew Jacob last week. They both work in our NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit. A colleague of mine at SEAL Security had a pair of crutches that he did not need anymore. We called Matthew and Craig, because we knew they would find good use for them. Sure enough, they certainly did. (See the photo below.) However, what I enjoyed most about their visit to my office was that they both validated something that I have come to believe recently.
On 116th Street in Rockaway, there are often several people who are homeless or residents of the local single room occupancy sites on 115 Street, standing somewhere along the strip. While many of the homeless people in Manhattan either have signs asking for money or they’re verbally soliciting money, these people in Rockaway are just standing there. As I pass them, I make eye contact. When I do there is a slight look of surprise in their faces and their eyes widen. I can almost see their minds process that someone has acknowledged them, while they go from having been staring down at the ground to looking at me and asking, “Do you have any change?” I answer, “No, I am sorry, but please have a nice day.” They then look slightly surprised again and smile, “Thank you. You also.”
Here is what I get out of these exchanges. We were born to connect to others. We spend our lives looking for that connection, one way or another. I believe that when these poor souls ask for money it is really not about the money – It is about connection, connection to humanity. Think about it for moment. When we walk in the streets and happen to catch eye contact with another we say things like, “Good morning.” “Some weather this is.” Few people ever say that to them. And if they said that to us, we would likely ignore them and probably not even give them eye contact. But when we do initiate eye contact with them their response is to ask for money. That is the only social skill, tool of engagement, that they have.
I shared this with Matthew and Craig and I learned a little more of what they do on a typical day. There are obviously locations throughout the city where there are homeless people lingering on a regular basis. Their primary mission is to offer services and get these people the help that they need. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority will not except services. That’s where Craig and Matthew deliver their own special service – they “see” them, they acknowledge them, they spend time with them and chat with them. They go from person to person chatting with them throughout the day. They told me about one woman in particular, 27 years old, in midtown. If one of them takes the day off she will ask the other, “Where is your partner?” She actually looks forward to their visits. When I shared my theory about it not being about soliciting the money but rather connection, Matthew said, “Most of the homeless tell us that their greatest need is to be noticed by people.”
The homeless crisis in our country is a significant challenge. Human beings for whatever reason are without the basic services that most of us take for granted. Great minds have been struggling to find solutions. The media often reports on homeless conditions with the objective of pointing fingers at some government entity. Demagogues use the problem for their own gain.
But good people like Matthew and Craig, messengers of grace, give them something that costs nothing, something everyone of us can give, something invaluable. They acknowledge the humanity of these poor sisters and brothers, day by day, person by person. What an inspiration it was to chat with them both.
Do you have a story that you would like to share? Contact us, we’d love to hear from you!
You could be featured in future Illuminate issues!
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